The moment came just before nine o’clock Pacific Time on Tuesday, August 7, 2007.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, on a three balls, two strike pitch from Washington’s Mike Bacsik, it happened-Barry Bonds connected and the baseball flew more than 435 feet into the right field seats at AT&T Park in San Francisco to pass home run king Hank Aaron with No.756.
It took 39 years for legendary Babe Ruth’s 714 home run record to fall in 1974 when Aaron crushed it with 715 and then increased it to 755 before retiring in 1976.
Now 33 years later, the son of late baseball star Bobby Bonds and the godson of the legendary Willie Mays, who stands at No. 4 all-time with 660 home runs stands alone atop the most historic mark in the history of professional sports.
As he reached home plate, Bonds embraced his son Nikolai, a Giants batboy, as well as his teammates and coaches. Then he hugged his mother, Patricia Howard, wife, Liz, and daughters Shikari and Aisha.
Finally, he embraced his godfather Mays, the man who some regard as the best to ever play the game. All the while, the sellout crowd of 41,503 gave him a rousing ovation as the game was delayed for 10 minutes.
Standing next to Mays, the 43-year-old Bonds thanked the fans, his teammates, the opposing Washing-ton Nationals and his family in an approximately two-minute speech. “I’m glad I did it before you guys went to school,” he joked to his kids.
The speech grew emotional when Bonds mentioned his father, who died in 2003 of complications from lung cancer and a brain tumor.
“To my dad, Thank you for everything,” he said, pointing to the sky with tears in his eyes To the delight of the crowd, Bonds ran to the outfield in the sixth inning to continue playing but it turned out to be an extended curtain call. He tossed the ball around before he was substituted out for a replacement and the crowd gave him one last salute before he headed into the dugout.
Aaron, who had consistently said he would not show up in person, greeted Bonds with a video message offering his congratulations.
“It is a great accomplishment that requires skill, longevity, and determination. I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 years…I offer my best wishes to Barry and his family,” Aaron said.
Also noticeably absent was Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who was present when Bonds tied the record on August 4 in San Diego. He sent a representative in Major League Baseball executive vice president Jimmie Lee Solomon.
It was fitting that Bonds broke the record at home, a place where he is universally acclaimed and where fans have embraced him for 14 of his 22 season career. There was no mixed reaction of cheers and boos that greeted him in San Diego when he hit No. 755; it was a love affair for an adopted son.
As a young child, Bonds grew up around the Giants clubhouse where his father and Mays both played. Mays told reporters before the game that even then, he “visualized him playing sports at a high level.”
And now, Barry Lamar Bonds is atop the highest mountain in baseball as its all-time home run leader.